CommonLook PDF’s “Find and Replace” Feature

 In Articles, PDF Accessibility, Software
Colorful Illustration showing workers lifting a large magnifying glass to a software search bar


Got Symbols?

Let’s say you have a document that uses the same symbol (or symbols) multiple times to convey a concept or information – like in those pharmacy directories where the little computer icon means a particular pharmacy accepts prescription refills online.

Screenshot of a pharmacy directory on the left with the Find and Replace panel open on the right, searching for a symbol and replacing the symbol with "May accept electronic prescriptions"

Instead of having a screen reader say whatever character was used in wingding font, for example, to make the computer icon, you need to have the screen reader indicate that the pharmacy in question refills prescriptions online. To do that, you’d have to find each computer icon, put them in <Span> tags and then give them all alternative text. Talk about tedious and time consuming. Lucky for you, CommonLook PDF has “Find and Replace” to speed the process up. All you need to do is copy the character, navigate to “Find and Replace” and put the character in the “Find What” box, provide the alternative text you want to have read instead and choose “Replace All.” If you use CommonLook PDF, it does all of the heavy lifting.

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Other “Codes”

In keeping with our medical example above, think about those drug formularies that you get during Open Enrollment; you know the ones. They list the drug names and then have all kinds of codes after them – “QLL” for “Quantity Limits Apply,” or “ST” for “Step Therapy Required.” CommonLook’s got you covered here, with “Find and Replace,” too.

screenshot showing how you can find and replace abbreviations in CommonLook PDF

Instead of entering a symbol, as in the example above, enter the text. Of course, you probably don’t want to replace every “ST” in the whole document with “Step Therapy Required” but, in the “Find Options” section of “Find and Replace” there are additional settings available to help control what you find and whether or not it gets changed. For example, if all of the “STs” for step therapy are capitalized, check the checkbox for “Match Case.” In this case, to be more precise, you might want to replace things one at a time instead of choosing “Replace All” so choose “Find Next,” and “Replace” as needed.

The Hits Just Keep on Coming

In addition to replacing symbols, abbreviations, codes, etc., CommonLook has advanced functionality built in to find, for example, text based on things like the font name, size, style and color and then replace it – or even add text to what it finds – as needed. Let’s say, for example, you have a data table in your document where negative values are indicated by bold and red text. Visually, someone who is colorblind might not see the red, but they’d see the bold and be able to figure out which numbers are negative. For people using screen readers, however, they wouldn’t get either the bold or the red and so they wouldn’t know which numbers are positive and which are negative. In CommonLook PDF, using the advanced functionality, you can search for the text that’s bold and red and add to the text that’s found the word “negative.” This way, when a screen reader lands on those data cells it’ll tell the user “negative (number in the cell).”

screenshot showing how you can find and replace font attributes in CommonLook PDF

How Do You Do This in Acrobat?

In Adobe Acrobat you have two options to fix the problems as highlighted in this article. You can either 1) individually select each symbol, abbreviation, negative number, etc., place your selection in a <Span> tag and provide the necessary alternative text, OR, 2) in the toolbar, navigate to Plugins, choose CommonLook and save yourself lots of time and aggravation.